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How to Get Rid of Orange Stains on Shower Curtains

Orange stains on shower curtains may look harmless at first, but over time they can make your shower space look dirty and unpleasant. If your initial reaction to seeing this rust-colored mold on the shower curtain is a disgusting ”ewww,” you’re not alone.

You probably think that shower curtains stay clean because they are washed every time you take a shower. While that is somewhat true, the shower’s watery environment also makes shower curtains a desirable place for mold and bacteria growth.

shower curtain orange stains
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Thankfully, that orange residue on your shower curtain is removable, and we have some tips to make cleaning shower curtains less of a bore.

Why Are There Orange Stains on My Shower Curtain?

The best way to clean stains on shower curtains is to find out what caused them. There are three possible reasons for orange stains to appear on shower curtains:

Inspect Your Bath Supplies

Most of the stains in your shower are caused by your bath supplies – bath soap, shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, etc. Whether you are using plastic or fabric shower curtains, stains may begin to develop due to the soap scum from your bath supplies.

Imagine if you didn’t have a shower curtain; the water, dirt, and soap scum would splash out onto the bathroom floor. Now, with a shower curtain in place, all of that soapy water and dirt will be absorbed by the curtain, and this creates stains.

There Could Be Iron in Your Shower Water

Orange stains on the shower curtain can also be a sign of the minerals in your water supply. High mineral content in water, especially iron, is notorious for leaving rusty orange deposits all over your shower, including the curtain.

Here’s the thing, your water may look clean and clear, but it can contain high levels of iron that may turn orange due to oxidation when the water is exposed to air. These minerals tend to stick to any kind of material, so both fabric and plastic shower curtains may suffer.

It Might Be Pink Mold

Sometimes, orange buildup in your shower curtain looks more like a growing mound of mold than a rusty, flaky stain. Now, the reason for that ugly orange buildup is Serratia marcescens or pink mold. It’s a water-borne bacteria that thrives in the damp environment of your shower, especially the curtains. They also feed on soap scum.

Pink mold doesn’t appear pink at all. Often, they come in a range of colors from orange to reddish. And while it’s not typically dangerous to touch, it can still cause health issues for people with a weak immune system. Pink mold also causes ugly staining on your shower curtain when left untreated. 

Are Orange Stains on the Shower Curtain Dangerous?

Typically, orange stains caused by bath products and excessive iron in your shower water will make the curtain look unattractive, but they won’t make you sick.

On the other hand, orange buildup due to pink mold can cause a whole range of health problems for people with a compromised immune system once it enters the body through the eyes or open wounds.

Some health issues caused by pink mold include respiratory illnesses, gastrointestinal ailments, and urinary tract infections.

How to Clean Orange Stains on Your Shower Curtain

First things first, here are a few things to remember when cleaning shower curtains:

  • Start cleaning the orange residue as it begins to appear on your shower curtain, before it becomes a stubborn stain.

  • Regularly air out or open your shower curtain to let it dry after you shower to prevent moisture and mold buildup.

Whatever the reason for the orange buildup on the shower curtain, there’s good news. It’s fairly simple to clean. These methods work whether you’re dealing with light orange, soapy stains, or dirt, rusty orange buildup.

Clean Orange Stains with Vinegar

Cleaning orange stains caused by iron buildup from your hard water is as simple as it gets using one pantry staple – vinegar. This solution also works for getting rid of pink mold growing on your shower curtain.

What you need to do is combine equal amounts of distilled water and vinegar and apply them to the orange stain. Leave the mixture to sit for a few minutes, then start scrubbing away. You can also try using this cleaning method with lemon juice instead of vinegar. They are both acidic and effective cleaning agents against stains.

Note: Iron stains are best treated early since they are far easier to scrub away when they are new.

Clean Moldy Orange Stains in a Washing Machine with Baking Soda

If you’re not comfortable cleaning a moldy shower curtain by hand, there’s another way. Throw it in your washing machine along with half a cup of baking soda plus your usual laundry detergent.

Wash it on ‘Delicate,’ then add a few tablespoons of vinegar to the rinse cycle to get rid of remaining mold spores. Then, let your shower curtain drip dry, and give it another spritz of a vinegar and water solution to further prevent pink mold growth.

Note: Prevent further mold growth on the shower curtain by keeping the humidity in the shower under control. Open the shower curtain after each use and improve air circulation by opening windows.

How to Clean Plastic Shower Curtains

The best method to clean plastic shower curtains is to regularly treat them with a simple homemade cleaning solution, rinse, and allow them to dry. Some cleaning solutions you can make are:

  • Diluted bleach

  • A blend of distilled water and lemon juice (optional drops of essential oil)

  • Diluted white vinegar

If there is a stubborn stain, use a sponge or an old toothbrush to scrub away the debris before rinsing.

How to Clean Vinyl Shower Curtains

Skip out on the scrubbing if you have vinyl shower curtains. The best way to clean these is by throwing the curtain into the washing machine.

  • Add a capful of laundry detergent plus ½ cup of vinegar

  • Add three to four old bath towels to balance out and help dissolve the stains and buildup

After washing, it’s best to air-dry the shower curtain or hang it fully extended somewhere it can get excellent air circulation.

How to Clean Fabric Shower Curtains

Fabric shower curtains have an excellent look and feel compared to plastic and vinyl curtains. The downside, however, is that they are more susceptible to retaining moisture. This means they are more likely to develop stains and grow mold. Thankfully, laundering your fabric shower curtain in the washing machine can do the trick in removing stains and mold.

  • Wash in warm or cold water

  • Use mild laundry detergent

  • Add baking soda for extra cleaning power

  • Add a couple of bath towels to help dissolve and get rid of stains and buildup.

Allow the fabric curtain to hang dry under the sun or use the dryer, but make sure it’s on low heat to avoid ruining the fabric.

Note: You can also pretreat stubborn orange stains with a baking soda paste and lemon juice before washing the curtain.